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Syrian Conflict Links to Climate Change Demolished

May 14, 2017

By Paul Homewood




Andrew Montford, now Director at GWPF, has this analysis of a talk by conflict expert, Professor Clionadh Raleigh, about the links between climate and conflict:


Yesterday, Clionadh Raleigh, an conflict expert from the University of Sussex, gave an extraordinary talk at the Oxford Martin School. In it, she took a fairly hefty axe to the idea that a link between climate and conflict has been demonstrated, although she saved the real fireworks for the Q&A session at the end.

The whole presentation can be seen on Youtube and it’s well worth a watch.

I looked at at the (frequently alleged) link between climate and conflict in my GWPF report on heatwaves and drought, noting in passing the extraordinary steps that one Colin Kelley had taken to arrive at his widely reported finding that the Syrian conflict was caused by climate change. Reading between the lines of Prof Raleigh’s talk, it seems that I’m not the only one to have noticed problems in the field, because this is what she has to say about it:

“There is a cottage industry that has emerged to promote [the climate conflict relationship] and others very similar to it, and those people and institutions …will find evidence or will…I hesitate to use the word “manipulate”…they will provide evidence as they see fit. There’s plenty of evidence that many of these presumed relationships are nonsense, but they are routinely used by the military or development organisations or by government…”

And when she spoke on Syria she had this to say:

“…the 150 different militia groups that have emerged in Libya or the 1000 that have emerged within Syria are not doing it because it didn’t rain 10 years ago. That’s not why they’re fighting.”

“It did disturb me, the way [climate] caught on as the main lens through which people wanted to understand violence…especially the narrative about Syria is quite disturbing”

At times Prof Raleigh has quite a lot of fun at the expense of our green friends. She wonders about the oft-claimed increase in raiding behaviour by pastoralists, allegedly caused by climate change or, more specifically, drought. As she deadpan explains, the problem with this argument is that no self-respecting pastoralist is going to steal animals during a drought because there will be no fodder around to keep them alive. Any pastoralist who wasn’t born yesterday (or in Islington) knows that you steal your neighbour’s animals at the start of the rainy season. The argument for some kind of a climate link is, once you understand the situation on the ground, completely preposterous.

But perhaps she is at her most devastating when she comes to the implications of the arguments put forward by the environmentalists and their friends in the Guardian and the New York Times:

“In very recent years, natural scientists have picked up on [the climate conflict] discussion. I would go so far as to say that their arguments are out and out environmental determinism: temperature goes up, violence goes up. It’s horrific…to imply that about people who are leading very difficult lives…to imply that they are somehow naturally violent is appalling.”

Which could be seen as…quite a strong accusation. It only gets worse when she considers the policy implications, which she says are “wide and profound”.

“The notion of “threat multiplication” and that the US sees climate conflict as one of the most important lenses through which to view African violence…will have long-term effects on these regions and their ability to adapt and mitigate if they are treated as a security issue.”

I sense, however, that environmentalists are not bothered in the slightest.


Professor Raleigh maintained academic niceties in her talk, but it is clear that this is a really blistering attack on the integrity of so called scientists, such as Colin Kelley, who have twisted the evidence for their own purposes.

  1. Joe Public permalink
    May 14, 2017 1:08 pm

    Andrew had this posting at his place a year ago:

  2. May 14, 2017 1:36 pm

    They’ve got to get millions of ‘climate refugees’ from somewhere – anywhere will do.

  3. quaesoveritas permalink
    May 14, 2017 2:12 pm

    Unfortunately, Raleigh made the common error of using the word “climactic” when she meant “climatic”, (presumably).

  4. tom0mason permalink
    May 14, 2017 2:22 pm

    The argument that hot weather and the change in climate is causing conflict is completely bogus. Just look at the history. Just look at the politics.

    The green thinking is deeply error-ridden nonsense, based in the idea that people that are less sophisticated are less peaceful, and the greens are judging these people as such. This is BS! As close to racism as anyone can get.

  5. May 14, 2017 3:09 pm

    There are no lies too big for the alarmist greens; anything to keep the climate change scam going.

  6. John F. Hultquist permalink
    May 14, 2017 3:32 pm

    … the US sees climate conflict as one of the most important lenses …

    The problem with this is that the “US” is not a person that sees.
    Obama, advisors, and underlings seemed to have used climate as a tool to promote a strange variety of issues. The Trump administration (TTA) is unsettled about much of all these — and likely will remain so. However, TTA does not mistake religion for climate.

  7. John Smith permalink
    May 14, 2017 3:36 pm

    Air pollution Abuse of data.

    Although this is not strictly a climate matter, I think there may be another problem./scam developing around the air pollution problem. There have been two articles published this year in The Telegraph about a possible future link between air pollution and property prices. It is quite reasonable to assume that people may be prepared to pay more to live in an area where air pollution is lower and it is being suggested that people should check their local air pollution using an online facility that needs just your postcode. I had a bit of fun with this. (I have mentioned this before on this blog). I checked my local air pollution (out near the Mull of Galloway) with the figure for the centre of Dumfries (about 100 miles away) and they were the same. As were the number of deaths attributed to poor air quality. I looked at some other locations, like up in the Galloway Hills and the figures all seem to be the same.

    Now, air pollution is a big problem. I have lived in central London and many other urban places and I now find it almost impossible to be in those places after living out here and I am sure that something needs to be done about it, but if people are being asked to take pollution into account, then publicly available data needs to be reasonably accurate.

    I suspect the readings may be being taken in one place and extrapolated across vast areas without anyone bothering to look at the terrain. As far as premature deaths, the biggest risks in this area are probably falling off tractors or being killed on the A75 by a maniac trying to catch a ferry to Ireland.

    • HotScot permalink
      May 14, 2017 4:37 pm

      First off, I live in Dartford, possibly one of the most polluted areas in the south east being that the M25, Dartford crossing, A/M2, M20 all converge within a 5 mile radius and we have Bluewater and Thurrock Lakeside, both major attractions less than a couple of miles away.

      Second, please keep an eye out for a plot of land in your neck of the woods as we intend to retire back home in the next 4 or 5 years and build a house. 🙂

      The pollution scare is, as usual, a city centric alarmist call, supported by governments because if the rest of the country is terrorised by it we can all be squeezed for more tax, to pay for a problem that may contribute to 50,000 deaths a year, but it most certainly doesn’t cause them. The root cause are things like asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer etc. but I’m not convinced the presence of diesel emissions can be attributed to causing the root cause, in fact I’m highly sceptical.

      However, it’s yet another means by which the greens turn the screw, employing the unfounded guilt of the nation by wildly exaggerating each and every little possibility of harm to a minority of the country, in this case, city folk, to feather their little nests.

      It’s quite clear to anyone with half a brain cell that living in a city brings with it the risk of pollution, it’s also likely to be the centre of a pandemic, it brings with it the increased likelihood of road accidents, train crashes, burglary and violence. But those are, frankly, the risks we all must run if we want to be close to centres of employment.

      In other words, if people don’t want pollution they should move to the countryside and perhaps create wealth and employment for other parts of our small island community instead of bitching about ‘their lot’ in the city where the benefits are many and should be balanced by the disadvantages.

      Indeed, I would go as far as to say f*ck them, let city pollution proliferate then wealth might be distributed across the country as cities are abandoned to a dystopian future.

      I can’t wait to go home.

      • May 14, 2017 4:55 pm

        ” to pay for a problem that may contribute to 50,000 deaths a year,”
        For the millionth time I’ll explain the 40kK death dead is a made up number of THEORETICAL EQUIVALENT deaths.
        Pollution appears on almost mo death certificates yet ALL lifespans are affected by it.

        How lifespan is also affected positively by living close to a hospital.
        So don’t give up on cities.

        We don’t even know that some pollution won’t be good for you..instead of clean clean.

      • May 14, 2017 5:07 pm

        typo .. “Just like ” How lifespan is also affected positively by living close to a hospital.
        So don’t give up on cities.

      • HotScot permalink
        May 16, 2017 6:18 pm


        my full statement was:

        “The pollution scare is, as usual, a city centric alarmist call, supported by governments because if the rest of the country is terrorised by it we can all be squeezed for more tax, to pay for a problem that may contribute to 50,000 deaths a year, but it most certainly doesn’t cause them. The root cause are things like asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer etc.”

        I suspect we’re both debating the same side of the argument.

        To my knowledge, smoking is never recorded as a cause of death on a death certificate. I doubt ‘pollution’ is ever recorded as a cause of death either.

        Smoking being responsible for lung cancer and CHD, like pollution, is a statistical conclusion. Much the same as the Japanese predisposition to stomach cancer, statistically linked to their high fish consumption.

        At the same time, the incidence of lung cancer amongst the Japanese is astonishingly low considering the amount they smoke. (I’m not sure either of those statistics on the Japanese are clinically correct, but much like AGW, they form part of popular myth because of people fiddling with numbers.)

        In the same way, CO2 is statistically, and erroneously, responsible for global temperature rise. No one has observationally proven it, but the myth continues because of statistics, not science.

    • May 14, 2017 4:57 pm

      But John, the population density in Galloway is…well, there isn’t any 🙂

  8. Athelstan permalink
    May 14, 2017 7:29 pm

    Syria, was undone by other means, destabilized by Bliar’s/dubbya’s – War on Terror perpetrated in Iraq. The UK along with the western clusterfuck that is the liberal cognoscenti ‘governing’ the west urged on by the KSA/ our ‘allies’ in Turkey……seeding rebellion in the Sunni majority population to unseat Bashar al Assad, be in no doubt this was and still is a proxy war between; Russia Iran and Syria versus the Wahhabist Sunni loons and their western dupes – not least Hussein Obarmy, Scameron and Sarko/latterly Hollande.

    Second, Eastern Syria is desert, they’re used to prolonged drought what they’re not used to is feeding the massed mouths of Iraqi immigrants fleeing over the border from Anbar and beyond.
    Syrian farmers were pushed off their lands, as eastern Syria descended into a blood fest of internecine fighting and age old Vendettas being settled.

    Only a green spaz, would assert that ‘climate change’ of the man made variety had anything to do with the Syrian conflict……………….

    Unless, we acknowledge the other reason for the big increase in food commodity prices …………..caused by yes you’ve guessed it Man! Man made idiots are green, the twatterati’s insistence on ending existence of nations only groping at the level of mere subsistence via unsustainable nostrums [agenda 21]. That lunatic green plank, the drive to produce ethanol from corn crops in barry Obarmy’s cretinous subsidy policies meant less corn for hungry mouths and big fat profits for the ghouls Hedge funds buying up scarce food commodities. Evidently, inevitably, it’s always the poor who suffer most via the transport of the ‘green agenda’, it wasn’t an arab spring actually pure and simply all along – they were food riots*from a starving very unhappy population.

    But then, the Marxists like to use any excuse. thus, #Syrian crisis caused by man made climate change! was too good to resist and when has logic, truth and reality ever intruded into thesir tiny minds and with the globalists great green scam?

    *food riots called ‘Arab Spring’ – in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria.

    • Jack Broughton permalink
      May 15, 2017 9:45 am

      exactly so, but not to the UK news meja!

  9. Brian Vaux permalink
    May 14, 2017 7:59 pm

    How much longer will it be before all this evidence actually turns this wretched tide around? The cost is prohibitive and for many it is impossible to cope beyond the very basic needs. All the time we are exhorted to use more electricity to run our ever expanding tools and gadgets let alone recharging vehicles!
    Surely soon the penny must drop and common sense prevails. But how to stop the leaders (many are ex-MPs) of related industries from raking in millions in subsidies and bleeding our lives dry and wrecking businesses?

  10. Malcolm Bell permalink
    May 14, 2017 8:55 pm

    Not exclusively but substantially conflict is a close function of population and the effort required to eat properly. Living space.

    As world population continues to grow then si will social stress increase – perhaps even faster. Given that the world wars happened when world population was a third of present levels it is amazing that we have as much peace as we have. That presumably is the result of more intensive farming and environmentak destruction to create farm land.

    Too many people.

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